Re: Re: Fixed-length extended contests?

From: Ashley Munday <aescleal_at_...>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 10:13:26 +0000 (GMT)

Another thing the clock gives you is a greater variety of outcomes. A draw is virtually impossible in a simple contest (i.e. you have to roll the same number and have the same ability score) and is impossible in an extended contest (someone always runs out of AP).

So, in the case of someone trying to pick a lock:

If the character wins (drives the lock to 0 or negative AP) he gets through and the roaming whatsits don't see him;

If the lock wins (drives the character to 0 or negative AP) the character realises he's never going to do it (his lock pick's broken, he's strained his fingers, he's not clever enough);

If the clock wins (drives the character to 0 or negative AP) the lock is intact and the character ends up hearing a guard shout, a spear point at his throat, staring down the barrel of a blaster, you name it.

Essentially it gives you another aid in interpreting the outcome of a contest, 'cause by adding in another actor into the contest you at least double the number of possible outcomes. It also gives a lot more narrative control to the players - they have to decide. Do they try and "extend" the clock using an appropriate ability or do they just knuckle down to the task in hand and hope they can deal with it before it's too late?

Oh, and even though I've called the external agent "the clock" I'm sure people can find better names for specific types of external agent - i.e. "the ref" in a football match or "the henchman" in the lockpicking example.

I'd like to stress again that this is only "necessary"* if there's a reason for an external agent to become involved. For example you wouldn't need it for defusing a bomb (the actors aims are "go bang" and "stop it going bang"), being chased by a boulder ("flatten the intruder" and "run away!") or almost any sort of combat ("Kill 'em" or "kill 'em").

As an asside, I've always judged the bids "the clock" makes on an ad-hoc basis. Once it was even a case of "Ooops, Dave yawned, better wind this one up now."



*"Necessary" implies that you must do it, but if you've got another way of interpreting contest results, go for it. This is just the most satisfying way I've found of doing these things.

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